New Release Oral History: Howard R. Friesen, UC Berkeley alum (1950), engineer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library is pleased to release our life history interview with engineer, entrepreneur, and alumnus and philanthropist of UC Berkeley, Howard R. Friesen.

UC Berkeley alumni Howard and Candy Friesen at home in Kentfield, CA, circa 2010. (Image courtesy of Howard Friesen.)

Howard R. Friesen earned his engineering degree from UC Berkeley in 1950. He eventually worked to own G. J. Yamas Company, Inc., which became one of the largest independent businesses in California and Nevada that specialized in building automation, controls systems, and related equipment for commercial and industrial buildings. As told in this interview, Mr. Friesen’s career in the building industries from 1950 through 1980 contributed to influential developments across California, from the construction of new schools amid the Baby Boom to evolving relations with organized labor, and from the rise of high-tech manufacturing in Silicon Valley to the expansion of California’s prison system.

Mr. Friesen also describes childhood memories working on his family’s farm in Reedley, California during the Great Depression, including leasing a farm in the 1940s from an interned Japanese family. He discusses his travels around Chicago and through Jim Crow-era Mississippi during his Naval training for World War II. Upon the war’s conclusion and with support from the G. I. Bill, Mr. Friesen then earned his engineering degree at UC Berkeley, where he met Candy Penther, his wife for more than sixty years. Most of this interview recounts Mr. Friesen’s career with G. J. Yamas Company, which he helped expand to five locations across California and Nevada. Mr. Friesen also addresses his and Candy’s generous philanthropy to UC Berkeley for student scholarships, endowment of research chairs, and significant contributions to The Bancroft Library and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Candy passed away in 2015 after a difficult battle against Parkinson’s Disease.

Mr. Friesen’s interview reveals how a farm boy from Reedley participated in several of the twentieth century’s great events—from World War II to the Microelectronics Revolution—and, with his wife, came to donate millions of dollars to UC Berkeley so others might pursue their own dreams of success.

— Roger Eardley-Pryor, PhD (November 2018)

Howard R. Friesen, “Howard R. Friesen: Engineer, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist of UC Berkeley” oral history interview conducted by Roger Eardley-Pryor in 2018, Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2018.


11/13 Event: Women in Bay Area Politics Panel and Discussion

By Amanda Tewes, OHC interviewer

Join us on November 13, 2018, 6-8 PM at The Ruby, a women’s creative working space in San Francisco!  The festivities feature a panel discussion with Supervisor Jane Kim and Close the Gap California founder Mary Hughes.  

 

1992 has been dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” a phenomenon in which a wave of women candidates swept local and national races for public office. California led this charge by becoming the first state in American history to be represented by two women senators—Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

And yet, 1992 was not the beginning of women’s political activism, but rather the culmination of decades of organization encouraging women to get involved and run for office.  For generations, Bay Area women have built the foundations of political activism that span neighborhood organizations to support networks. And their stories inform our present.

As engaged citizens, we need to know more about these women who helped create a space for themselves in Bay Area political life.  What drives women to run for elected office, to fight for affordable housing and environmental regulations, to fundraise for women candidates?  What challenges and successes have women encountered in politics?

In order to document these stories, I am developing the Bay Area Women in Politics Oral History Project to record the history of these local women and their impact on and journeys through politics.  The Oral History Center continues to preserve stories about California politicians, but this project is unique in that it focuses on women in one geographic region in order to get a clearer picture of the breadth of political work women have been doing on the ground and behind the scenes.

This topic is both historical and part of a contemporary conversation about the role of women in American politics.  Given this surge of women in politics and the upcoming hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage, now is the time to undertake this endeavor to celebrate and learn from Bay Area women who have shaped local and national politics.

Join us to kickoff this the Bay Area Women in Politics Oral History Project with an event on November 13, 2018, 6-8 PM at The Ruby, a women’s creative working space in San Francisco!  The festivities feature a panel discussion with Supervisor Jane Kim and Close the Gap California founder Mary Hughes.  


Joanne Corday Kozberg and Bill Siart and the Getty Board of Trustees

As part of an ongoing partnership between the Oral History Center and the Getty Trust, we recently conducted interviews with two distinguished former members of the J. Paul Getty Trust Board of Trustees: Joanne Corday Kozberg and Bill Siart.  

Joanne Corday Kozberg: The Getty Trust from a Trustee’s Perspective, 2005-2017

A Life of Service in Art and Education: Bill Siart and the Getty Board of Trustees

These oral history interviews with Kozberg and Siart document the successes and challenges of operating a major arts institution like the J. Paul Getty Trust. But they also demonstrate the importance of having solid leadership from experienced board members in times of crisis.  When Kozberg and Siart joined the J. Paul Getty Trust Board of Trustees in 2005, the organization was facing an antiquities scandal, was the subject of an investigation by the California Attorney General, and was struggling with internal management. And not long after these issues were resolved, the 2008 recession rocked the Getty’s core, requiring significant financial and organizational restructuring.

Listen to Kozberg and Siart share their stories of these difficult times in the Getty’s history, and how they approached these challenges as members of the Board of Trustees.

Joanne Corday Kozberg is a consultant for the public affairs firm California Strategies, LLC, and served on the board of trustees for the Getty Trust from 2005 to 2017. Ms. Kozberg grew up in Los Angeles, California, and attended University of California Berkeley in the 1960s. She was a graduate of the Coro Fellowship Program and completed her master’s degree at Occidental College. Kozberg then worked at the Coro Foundation and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Kozberg served as the California Secretary of State and Consumer Services under Governor Pete Wilson from 1993 to 1998. She also served as the Chair of the California Arts Council from 1999 to 1991 and was a Regent of the University of California from 1998 to 2011. Kozberg was the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Music Center of Los Angeles County from 1999 to 2002.

Bill Siart is the founder and chairman of the nonprofit Excellent Education Development (ExED), and served on the board of trustees for the Getty Trust from 2005 to 2017. Mr. Siart grew up in Los Angeles, California, and attended Santa Clara University in the 1960s. He completed his master’s degree in finance from University of California Berkeley. Siart was the chairman of First Interstate Bank until it was purchased by Wells Fargo in 1996. Siart ran for the Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District in 1996. He also serves as the chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

— Amanda Tewes, November 2018

 


Advanced Oral History Summer Institute Alum Spotlight: Kelly Navies

We recently caught up with Kelly Navies, who joined us in 2013 for our Summer Institute. She is now the Museum Specialist in Oral History at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she coordinates their Oral History program. We talked to her about how she came to oral history, what she learned at the Institute, and her current work with the Smithsonian.

Q: How did you first come to oral history?

A: I first came to oral history, while I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the African American Studies Department back in the early 1990s. In the Fall semester of my senior year, I took two courses which had a profound impact on my life; African American Poetry with the late June Jordan, and Images of Black Women in Literature with the late Barbara Christian. Prof. Christian assigned an optional paper to write about a maternal ancestor who’d lived during the 19th century. At the same time, June ( she preferred to be called, June), assigned a poem about mothers. Receiving these two assignments at the same time, inspired me to decide to pursue a research project on a maternal ancestor my mother had been telling me about all my life, but whom she actually knew very little about. All she knew was that she had been enslaved in Asheville, NC and had lived over 100 years into the 1950s, when my youthful mother had actually met her. At the time, all 6 of my grandmother’s siblings were still living ( she was deceased), so I embarked upon an oral history project to interview them all about their grandmother. Through a combination of genealogical research and oral history interviews, I eventually learned that she was named, Elizabeth Gudger Stevens, had indeed been born into slavery in Asheville, NC and had lived until 1956, when she was either 102 or 106, depending on who you believe ( no birth records, of course). It must be added that the only reason I knew “oral history” was a thing at all was because of a 7th grade English assignment and being introduced to Zora Neale Hurston at an early age.

Q: You attended the Advanced Oral History Summer Institute in 2013. What project were working on?

A: When I came to the Advanced Oral History Summer Institute in 2013, I was working as a Special Collections Librarian and Oral Historian for the Washington DC Public Library System. I had received an MLIS grant to pursue the “U Street Oral History Project.” The U Street corridor was the thriving heart of the African American business and cultural community in Washington, DC up until 1968, when many of the businesses were destroyed during the urban upheaval that followed the assassination of Dr. King. In fact, it remained a central location for Black life in Washington, DC up until the recent demographic transformation that has marked the city. For this project, I conducted over a dozen audio interviews that are now available from the DC Public library website:  (dclibrary.org) Three audio clips from this project have been made into podcasts that are also available from the DC Public Library website. I also held a public program at the Busboys and Poets restaurant on 14th St., right off of the historic U Street corridor, where I invited interviewees to participate. Finally, I shared the research project on a radio program at WPFW.

Q: How did your work benefit from the Summer Institute?

A: The Summer Institute introduced me to the work of other oral historians from around the world working in a variety of disciplines from academia to independent scholars and artists. I have kept in touch with several, in fact. It also brought me up to speed on the technological and theoretical state of the field.  Finally, I really enjoyed learning about Robin Nagle’s oral history work with sanitation workers.

 

Q: You now work with the Smithsonian. What’s the role of oral history at the museum?

A: As Museum Specialist in Oral History here at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), I coordinate the oral history program, which involves planning, budgeting, developing projects in collaboration with curators, and yes, interviewing. All of our interviews are filmed. However, I don’t conduct all of the interviews- in some cases, I conduct the research, help develop the questions, and handle the logistics. I also do trainings for classes and community groups.

Q: How do you get the public to engage with oral history?

A: Our oral history collection is cataloged along with other artifacts and are available for use in exhibitions for as long as we preserve them. Most recently, we conducted interviews for the Poor People’s Campaign Exhibition, City of Hope, and clips from those interviews were included in the exhibition. Visitors to the museum will also find oral history interviews located throughout the museum. For example, in our community galleries on the third floor, there is a clip of an interview I conducted with Mr. Frank Wright about his family’s generational involvement in oyster fishing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The oral history program also includes thousands of recordings captured in our Reflections Booths which are located in the history galleries. Here, visitors choose a question and record their answers in two minutes or less on a built-in camera. They then can choose to email it to themselves and/or share it with us.

The Community Curation Project is sponsored by the Smith Fund. Also, the full name of the Poor People’s Campaign exhibition is: City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. It is curated by Aaron Bryant and is on view at the National Museum of American History.

Q: What do you hope the public takes away from the oral histories in the Smithsonian’s collection?

A: When visitors encounter oral history in the museum, I hope they understand that history is a living breathing thing and not just something you read about in books. I hope it increases their awareness and interest in the stories of their elders and others around them.

Q: What kind of projects do you draw inspiration from?

A: I find all of my projects/interviews inspirational. The oral histories of African Americans reveal deep truths about America and about the human condition, overall. Each story I capture reminds me that there are so many other stories. oral history is a passion that is endlessly gratifying. Most recently, I had an experience that speaks to the significance of recording these stories. I interviewed a woman who knew that she wouldn’t be with us much longer-a black woman who had accomplished much in her life, and yet was still worried that her work might be forgotten-her narrative was profound and reflective. She passed away not long after and her family asked me to share some of what I had learned about her life at the memorial service. I truly consider the work we do, as oral historians, to be a sacred honor. We facilitate and capture heroic stories of ordinary individuals that are often relegated to the margins.


OHC Director’s Column, November 2018

California governors Pat Brown and Jerry Brown in 1992. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

The Oral History Center is excited to announce that we have joined forces with local public radio station KQED on a significant new partnership. The occasion for this collaboration is a new oral history of four-term California governor Jerry Brown. The project is expected to encompass at least 30 hours of conversations with Brown, taking place over a series of months, beginning later this year. The interviews will span most of Brown’s adult life, including his time in the seminary, lessons learned from his father’s governorship, his terms as secretary of state, attorney general and governor of California, and mayor of Oakland, and three presidential bids. They will address a life lived in and out of the public eye, and a long and extraordinary career devoted to public service.  

Research and interview duties will be shared by my colleague, Todd Holmes, and I. We’ll be joined by Scott Shafer, senior editor for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk and co-host of the weekly radio program and podcast Political Breakdown. “Jerry Brown is a singularly important figure in California political history,” Shafer says. “His long and remarkable time in and out of public life in California, including his personal reflections and insights, should be documented for posterity, and we’re delighted to be a part of doing just that.”

The final interviews will join our collection of political oral histories, which include major interview projects on four earlier California governors, including Jerry’s father Pat Brown, who was elected in 1958 and again in 1962. Transcripts and audio and video of the Brown interviews will be made available on our website. We are thrilled to partner with KQED to see that Governor Brown’s oral history is completed and made available to everyone — and we are humbled to be the ones with the honor of making sure that this history is recorded and preserved.

 

Like all Oral History Center projects, we are obliged to raise funding to help support this endeavor as neither the state or the university will provide funding this extraordinarily important project. We are happy to accept donations large and small for those who agree that this oral history needs to be recorded and that we cannot miss this window of opportunity to get it done. Please contact me directly (mmeeker@berkeley.edu or 510-643-9733) with questions or think about making a donation online: http://ucblib.link/givetoOHC

 

Martin Meeker, @MartinDMeeker

Charles B. Faulhaber Director

Oral History Center


Joey Terrill: Chicano Artist, AIDS Advocate, and Favorite Son of East L.A.

The Oral History Center is pleased to release our life history interview with famed Chicano artist Joey Terrill: At the Forefront of Queer Chicano Art.

Joey Terrill is a Chicano artist and second-generation native of East Los Angeles. For nearly four decades, his paintings and prints have stood at the forefront of queer Chicano art, pushing the boundaries of form and cultural representation by exploring the confluences of race and sexuality. In the 1980s, his work expanded further to address the epidemic that was ravaging the arts community: AIDS. From silkscreens and collages to various styles of painting, his artwork has long given voice to the experience of gay Chicanos while simultaneously advocating for racial justice, gay liberation, and HIV awareness.

Joey Terrill 1980 image titled My Mother's Maiden Name
My Mother’s Maiden Name © 1980 Joey Terrill

Joey’s artwork was featured in the Getty Center’s 2017 Pacific Standard Time: LA/ LA, an ambitious and far-reaching series of exhibitions across Southern California that explored Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. In connection with this exhibition, The Getty Center sponsored life history interviews with selected Chicana/o and Latina/o artists, many of whom were showcased in the LA/ LA programs. These interviews, conducted by the Oral History Center at the University of California, Berkeley, aimed to document the lives and experiences of these artists amid the dynamic and changing art world of the West. Joey Terrill was one of the selected artists.

Hollywood itself would be hard-pressed to craft a more touching and heartfelt story than the life story told here in Joey Terrill’s oral history. Raised by a single mother in East Los Angeles, Terrill was heavily influenced by the burgeoning Chicano civil rights movement. He participated in the 1970 Chicano Moratorium as well as the United Farm Workers’ grape and lettuce boycotts during the late 1960s and early 1970s. As an openly gay man, he also linked calls of civil rights to gay liberation—a subject he began to explore in his art. From his “Maricon” photo series and two-issue zine “Homeboy Beautiful,” to his wide range of paintings, Terrill’s artwork created its own space within both the Chicano and gay art scenes. By the mid-1980s, Terrill’s work also began to address the AIDS epidemic, expressing outrage toward homophobia and government inaction, as well as paying tribute to many fallen friends. In recent years his work has also engaged with the experience of being a longtime HIV survivor.

For over four decades he has stood as one of the pioneers of queer Chicano art, and as a true gem of the Los Angeles arts community. Through his art and AIDS advocacy, Terrill has not only touched the lives of thousands, but has also served as a bridge to a new generation of artists, activists, and LGBTQ youth.

 


Paul Gray: A Career in Electrical Engineering, UC Berkeley Administration, and Private Sector Leadership

Paul Gray: A Career in Electrical Engineering, UC Berkeley Administration, and Private Sector Leadership

Paul R. Gray is Professor Emeritus of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Dr. Gray worked at Fairchild Semiconductor before joining UC Berkeley EECS in 1971. There he developed a multi-decade research project on digital-analog conversion and the thermal properties of integrated circuits, which laid the foundation for digital telecommunications, scientific instrumentation, and digital representations of the analog world. He served as Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, also known as EECS (1990-93), Dean of the College of Engineering (1996-2000), and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of UC Berkeley (2000-06). He has served on the boards of several corporations and foundations, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

In this clip, Dr. Gray talk about the importance of SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis), the first widely available open-source simulation software for integrated circuits. Developed at EECS, this program was just one of the many of UC Berkeley’s contributions to the electronics, telecommunications, and computing industries. This clip is characteristic of Dr. Gray’s habit of lifting up the work of others. To learn more about Dr. Gray’s contributions to research, innovation, and university administration, please consult his wide-ranging oral history.


New Release Oral History: Phil Freese, Innovator and Leader in the Practice of Winegrowing

The Oral History Center is pleased to release a new life history interview with leading winegrower Phil Freese.

Philip Freese is a co-founder and co-owner of Vilafonté, a South African winery that produces varietal red wine. Freese was born in 1945 in Indiana. He was educated at Purdue University (BS) and University of California Davis (PhD) where he studied biochemistry. He left the field of biochemistry to pursue a career in the wine industry in 1978, first working as vineyard manager for a CalPlans vineyard in Napa County and then, beginning in 1982, as a winegrower for Robert Mondavi, eventually becoming Vice President of Winegrowing. In the 1990s he started both a wine consulting firm, Winegrow, and, with his wife winemaker Zelma Long, the winery Vilafonté in South Africa.

Phil Freese in South Africa

In this interview, Freese discusses the following topics: upbringing and education in science; early career as a biochemist; the evolution of the California wine industry from the 1970s through the 1990s, with a special focus on Napa Valley and viticulture; the multiple facets of viticultural practice and research, including the definition of “winegrowing”; the North Coast Viticultural Research Group; Robert Mondavi Winery in the 1980s and 1990s; vineyard consulting practices; the wine industry in South Africa from the 1990s through the 2010s; and Vilafonté Winery in South Africa.

This interview will be engaging to anyone interested in wine from the lens of science, farming, or just sheer pleasure. Freese was one of the American pioneers of the idea of winegrowing, or the notion that wine is made primarily in the vineyard, less so in the cellar — that to make good wine, what you need first and foremost is quality grapes. So, Freese discusses in great detail the history of learning better viticultural practices from irrigation to vine canopy management.

Martin Meeker, Oral History Center


New Release Oral History: Marshall Krause, ACLU of Northern California Attorney and Civil Liberties Advocate

The Oral History Center is pleased to release our life history interview with famed civil liberties lawyer, Marshall Krause.

Marshall Krause served as lead attorney for the ACLU of Northern California from 1960 through 1968 and subsequently served as an attorney in private practice where he continued to work civil liberties cases. Krause attended UCLA as an undergraduate and graduated from Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley School of Law after which he clerked for Judge William Denman and Justice Phil Gibson.

Marshall Krause with a Ron Boise "Kama Sutra" sculpture
Marshall Krause with a Ron Boise “Kama Sutra” sculpture

In this oral history, Mr. Krause discusses: his upbringing and education, including his time at Boalt Hall; clerkships with judges Denman and Gibson and how those experiences influenced his progressive political outlook; his tenure as ACLU staff attorney, including many of the cases he worked; his experiences arguing several cases before the United States Supreme Court; his perspective of the San Francisco counterculture of the 1960s; and his professional and legal career after leaving ACLU in 1968, which included arguing additional cases before the US Supreme Court.

This oral history is significant for any number of reasons, but it is especially worthwhile for anyone interested in the current state of battles around the freedom of speech — from obscenity through political speech — and how these were decided in the courts in decades past, establishing the precedents under which we live today.

Martin Meeker


From the Archives: Staff Picks

This month, we’re bringing you a special edition of our From the Archives department. Below are interviews, all available in the OHC archives, recommended by each of us. Enjoy digging through the crates!

 

Martin Meeker’s pick:

Andre Tchelistcheff: Grapes, Wine, and Technology. Some lives in our collection of interviews are just profoundly interesting, and well worth digging into. This might be because of difficulties surmounted, achievements recognized, or simply the quality of the telling. Our 1979 oral history with Andre Tchelistcheff reveals one such life that ticks all of those boxes. From his birth in Russia in 1901, through his harrowing escape during the Revolution, to his years in France studying viticulture, and his decades quite literally remaking California’s wine industry, Tchelistcheff lived a remarkably influential life while remaining rooted in his passions throughout.

Roger Eardley-Pryor’s pick:

J. Michael McCloskey (Mike McCloskey), “Sierra Club Executive Director and Chairman, 1980s-1990s: A Perspective on Transitions in the Club and the Environmental Movement,” conducted in 1998 and published in 1999, is the second oral history with Mike McCloskey as part of the Sierra Club Oral History Project. Mike, a longtime leader in one of the largest environmental organizations in the United States, discusses the Club’s growing pains associated with an upsurge in membership amid Ronald Reagan’s anti-environmental actions in the early 1980s. Today, in lieu of modern assaults against environmental protections, Mike’s oral history sheds light on ways environmentalists managed those challenges and even expanded their purview to international issues.

Amanda Tewes pick:

Afton E. Crooks, “On Balance: One Woman’s Life and View of University of California Management, 1954-1990.” This fantastic oral history documents the life of Afton E. Crooks, who pushed the boundaries of women’s roles in both her personal and professional lives. In addition to great stories about her youth and political awakening, this interview also follows Crooks’ contributions to the University of California during a crucial period in the university’s growth.

Paul Burnett’s pick:

I choose nurse educator and clinical nurse Angie Lewis, who worked at UC San Francisco during the early years of the AIDS crisis. In Lewis’ interview, we really hear what it was like to first learn of this then-unknown disease that was killing gay people in San Francisco in the early 1980s. But we also hear touching stories of the mobilization of community and medical support for those who were suffering from AIDS.

David Dunham’s pick:

David Blackwell: African American Faculty and Senior Staff Oral History Project. Named after an esteemed mathematician and the first African-American tenured professor at Cal, David Blackwell Hall opened this fall to honor Professor Blackwell. Read more about his pioneering life in his oral history, part of our African American and Senior Faculty Oral History Project.

Todd Holmes’ pick:

I’d recommend Francis Mary Albrier: Determined Advocate for Racial Equality. This oral history captures the extraordinary life of one of Berkeley’s most prominent citizens, from her leading role in fighting discriminatory hiring in the City’s schools and businesses to desegregating the famed Richmond Shipyards. Moreover, through her oral history, you get a clear view of the many unsung citizens that organized communities of color to collectively push for change.

Shanna Farrell’s pick:

When I was first learning how to conduct longform interviews, I drew inspiration from Willa Baum, former director of the Oral History Center. She was an amazing interviewer, and her oral history interview provided insight into who she was, what drove her, and how she built the reputation of our office.